Persona 5 Royal proves Sony needs to streamline digital ownership
Back on their bullshit.
The PlayStation 5 hasn’t made its way into the home of many eager gamers yet due to ongoing supply chain issues. It also hasn’t had a blockbuster exclusive game that makes people feel they need to have the console. Big Sony exclusives like Horizon Forbidden West and the upcoming God of Wâr Ragnarök will be available on both PS5 and the last-gen PS4. But as more people get a PS5, the availability of digital upgrades to games they already own is an important feature. But games continually don’t offer free upgrades, the latest of which is Persona 5 Royal. This policy is unfriendly to players and shows that Sony needs to streamline digital ownership and make digital upgrades free.
What do you own?
After much anticipation, Persona 5 Royal (and other games from the series) are making their way to Xbox and Nintendo Switch starting in the fall. This announcement also included word that Persona 5 Royal would be getting an upgraded edition to PS5. For those who owned the game on PS4 and now want the PS5 version, the assumption might be that you could redeem a digital upgrade on your purchase. But Persona publisher Atlus had an unwelcome update for those people.
“We are sorry, but there are no products for purchasers of ‘Persona 5 Royal’ for PlayStation 4. We would appreciate it if you could purchase ‘Persona 5 Royal’ for PlayStation 5 when you play with PlayStation 5” a translated FAQ from Atlus stated.
This comes fresh off the heels of Square Enix coming under fire when those who owned FF7 Remake couldn't download and play the Intergrade edition of the game on PS5. The issue occurred when Intergrade was added to the PS Plus lineup when players who owned the base game found the only way they could get access to the additional Intermission chapter was to purchase it for $19.99. This issue was later resolved but put fans on edge as it raises questions about the uncertainty of ownership over digital products.
Sony has already received backlash in 2021 for trying to walk back their endorsement of free upgrades to first-party titles. Jim Ryan informed players that Sony would offer digital upgrades for $10 per game starting with Horizon Forbidden West. This itself was later reversed and you can now receive a free upgrade for the title.
The best place to play
This desire to charge players for upgrades, or even make them pay full price to replay a game they already own on the same console family feels like the end of Sony’s friendliness towards players. While digital upgrades are determined by publishers and not Sony themselves, their resistance to offering free upgrades on their own titles speaks volumes.
But as the creators of the PlayStation ecosystem, they do have the power to create a codified policy regarding digital ownership. This is possible, Xbox is already doing it! The Xbox Play Anywhere program makes most games accessible on both PC and Xbox consoles when purchased digitally, at no extra charge. I don’t try to sound like a shill of one company or another, but each generation always has a hero and a villain in the eyes of the gaming community. This generation’s villain is shaping up to be Sony.
Just one generation ago PlayStation had ad campaigns saying that the PS4 was the best place to play, and it was. The Xbox One alienated gamers through an online-only policy and DRM that made game sharing more difficult. In one of the biggest mic drop moments in E3 history, PlayStation responded with this video.
This encapsulated the overall ideology of PS4 Sony — put players first. Make the PlayStation ecosystem a friendly place and people will want to be a part of it. But the PS5 era has made it clear this mentality is gone.
Another project from Sony is the Last of Us Part I, a full remake from developer Naughty Dog of their critically acclaimed 2013 game. As PS5 games do now, this will cost $70. It will also be the third version of The Last of Us to be released. After the original game, Sony released a remastered edition for PS4. This remaster is even playable on PS5.
Charging players $70 for a remake of a game that can already be played on PS5 seems like a cash grab. But one developer on the project pushed back against this sentiment saying it is “the most meticulously built and crafted project that I have ever seen”. And while remakes can be a fantastic way to bring an obscure game to a wider audience, The Last of Us is one of the most beloved games of the past decade and is already playable on PS5.
With Sony funneling their energy into creating remakes that people aren’t asking for and trying to charge the player’s full price at every chance they get, it feels like the era of PlayStation being the best place to play is dead.